I’m not sure what world we’re in anymore. The leader of the free world meets a tyrant, one who oppresses his countrymen and women. They emerge after talks as friends.
All that had occurred before when, as enemies, they would huff and puff and threaten to blow the other’s house down, gone as surely as night follows day. For surely, this was a new dawn. As Donald Trump said, “a very great day; it is a very great moment in the history of the world”.
And with that Trump and Kim Jong-un went home, no doubt both satisfied with a job well done, brandishing not so much a document, metaphorically, with words set in stone, but a sieve through which meaning sifts like sand.
Here’s what they’re going to do: set up “new relations” on the path to “peace and prosperity” and join efforts to build a “lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula”. Kim would commit to work “toward complete denuclearisation” of the peninsula, send home the remains of dead American soldiers from the Korean War, and Trump would commit, as a sort of topping on the cake, stop military exercises with South Korea.
Of Kim, Trump said: “He’s got a great personality. He’s a funny guy, he’s very smart, he’s a great negotiator. He loves his people.”
It is true that realpolitik demands rat cunning, compromise and the ability and capacity to see sacrifice as the price to pay for winning the long game. But there is a world of difference between shaking hands with the devil and singing his praises.
Of Kim, Trump said: “He’s got a great personality. He’s a funny guy, he’s very smart, he’s a great negotiator. He loves his people, not that I’m surprised by that.”
He loves his people. Yes, quite.
Not only did Kim love his people, but, said Trump, he was something of a mercurial creature. A “tough guy’’.
“Hey, when you take over a country, tough country, with tough people, and you take it over from your father, I don’t care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have – if you can do that at 27 years old, that’s one in 10,000 could do that.”
When an interviewer pointed out, in something of an understatement, “He’s still done some really bad things.”
Trump brushed it aside: “Yeah, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things. I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done.”
End of moral contemplation.
A UN inquiry into human rights in North Korea found an “almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as of the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, information and association”.
As one US Democrat senator said: “Gulags, public executions, planned starvation, are legitimised on the world stage… What the hell?”
And hell is North Korea if you believe in freedom of thought and freedom of movement. A United Nations inquiry a few years ago into North Korea, chaired by Australia’s former High Court judge Michael Kirby, looked into
Violations of the right to food.
Violations associated with prison camps.
Torture and inhuman treatment.
Violations of freedom of expression.
Violations of the right to life.
Violations of freedom of movement, and
Enforced disappearances, including in the form of abductions of nationals of other states.
If this is love of your people, then all is false.
It found, in part, “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations. In many instances, the violations found entailed crimes against humanity based on state policies. The main perpetrators are officials of the State Security Department, the Ministry of People’s Security, the Korean People’s Army, the Office of the Public Prosecutor, the judiciary and the Workers’ Party of Korea, who are acting under the effective control of the central organs of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the National Defence Commission and the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
It also found an “almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as of the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, information and association.
“The state operates an all-encompassing indoctrination machine that takes root from childhood to propagate an official personality cult and to manufacture absolute obedience to the Supreme Leader (Suryong), effectively to the exclusion of any thought independent of official ideology and State propaganda. Propaganda is further used by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to incite nationalistic hatred towards official enemies of the state, including Japan, the United States of America and the Republic of Korea, and their nationals.
“The rights to food, freedom from hunger and to life in the context of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea cannot be reduced to a narrow discussion of food shortages and access to a commodity. The state has used food as a means of control over the population.”
The inquiry, concluded, in part: “The fact that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as a state member of the United Nations, has for decades pursued policies involving crimes that shock the conscience of humanity raises questions about the inadequacy of the response of the international community. The international community must accept its responsibility to protect the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from crimes against humanity, because the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has manifestly failed to do so.”
If this is love of your people, then all is false. And Donald Trump sits on top of a world without axis where oppression is freedom and conscience is orphan to vile bodies of political immorality.